We often consider our pets to be part of our family, and therefore wouldn’t dream of leaving them behind when we relocate abroad. If you are moving to Belgium from another country within the European Union, then the process will be easier and you will have to obtain something called an EU pet passport. This law was enforced in October 2004 and applies to moving dogs, cats and ferrets between EU countries. PETS (the Pet Travel Scheme) allows these domestic animals, cats, dogs and ferrets to travel freely to other EU countries without having to spend time in quarantine. Before moving your pet to Belgium, it is important to ask your local Veterinary practice about the process of applying for a pet passport, which is the document of identification needed for your animal.
Applying for a pet passport
You will first have to make sure that your pet has had the necessary vaccinations so that you can proceed with applying for a pet passport. When importing a domestic animal in to Belgium, you must ensure that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies. The rabies vaccination is the only vaccination necessary for moving your pet to Belgium, as well as their other annual vaccinations, if they have any. Also, getting your pet micro chipped is very important, as the chip that is inserted in to the animals neck, will contain your name and contact details, which can help in returning your pet to you if it happens to go missing at any time. Having your pet micro chipped is also a must for those moving to Belgium, as all dogs in Belgium must be registered and identifiable.
Once your veterinary practitioner has confirmed that the rabies vaccination has taken and your pet is now vaccinated against rabies, the pet passport can be issued to you. Any animal over three months old can only be accepted in to Belgium with the valid pet passport, otherwise the animal will not be accepted in to the country.
If you wish to bring your cat, ferret or dog in to Belgium from another EU country and the animal is 3 months old or younger; then they may be allowed without having the standard rabies injection. Young animals under 3 months old are not allowed to have rabies vaccinations. The animal in question will only be allowed in to Belgium without having a rabies vaccination, if it can be proved that the animal has never came in contact with another animal infected with rabies and that the country it is travelling from, is the animal’s birth country. For such permission, you may want to contact your veterinary practise for a letter of permission.
Exporting an animal from outside of the EU in to Belgium
Depending on the country that you are travelling from, you may need to check further details which you will find on your home country’s embassy website or at the Belgium embassy site. Usually the animal must have a rabies vaccination and have a blood test to see if the rabies vaccination is present in the animal’s blood stream. The blood test should be taken three months before travelling and at least 30 days after the vaccination. If a problem occurs during this time after the first rabies vaccination, another rabies vaccination can be given. It is important to allow yourself the sufficient amount of time to complete the necessary steps of acquiring a pet passport, because sometimes problems may occur, forcing you to repeat some of the steps in the process. This is the standard procedure for importing any domestic animal (cat, dog or ferret) in to Belgium, but other actions may also be taken depending on which country you are travelling from outside of the EU. Importing other non-domestic animals in to Belgium
If you wish to import another type of animal, other than a cat, dog or ferret, then you may find that the process can be quite difficult. Animals such as horses, cows and other cattle will need to have suitable identification and their health and medical record from their country of origin. It is important to find out the necessary information on the documents and vaccinations that you will need, which you can find from any local veterinary practitioner in your home country. If you are importing the animal from within the EU, the process is of course, less complex than exporting an animal from a non-EU country.
If you are planning to take your pet rodents or rabbits to Belgium, then they will not need a rabies vaccination nor do they need any identification, as long as they are travelling from within an EU country.
Reptiles, such as lizards and snakes can be imported in to Belgium, provided that they have been kept legally and the process can be quite simple if you are travelling with the reptile. Once again, it is important to ask your local veterinary practitioner about information on the subject or check out the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) website for more information on importing and exporting endangered species such as reptiles